To achieve termite control, you must kill all of the termites living in your home, including the soldiers. While this may not mean anything to you, it’s important that all of the termites die or your home can continue to suffer damage. Destroying the soldier termites, while only one step in this process, is important to the longevity of your home.
Termite Social Structure
There are three social levels in any termite colony. The reproductive termites, usually called kings or queens, are on top. They provide all of the eggs for the colony, and thus control how many termites are there overall and whether they are reproductive, worker, or soldier in nature. While the queen termite does have this control, she controls very little else. Their food must be brought to them and they never leave the colony.
Next are the soldier termites. While their role will be discussed in detail below, it is sufficient to say that they protect the colony from invasion.
Finally, there are worker termites. These are what most people think of when they consider the insect colony. They burrow looking for food and return to the colony when they find it. They feed termites who cannot feed themselves and are generally involved in the maintenance and heavy lifting of the colony.
The Soldier Termite
Soldier termites are in the middle of the social levels in an insect colony. While not able to reproduce, they are specifically designed to keep invaders out. Since they attack specifically with their jaws, this part of them is oversized. In fact, their heads and jaws are so large that they cannot feed themselves. Worker termites must not only bring them food, but help them consume it as well.
Soldiers have oversized jaws because, generally, the breaches in the colony that they are defending against are about the size of their heads. If they can stick their head through and only show chomping jaws to the enemy, the attackers will either be destroyed or frightened away. In case of breaches larger than their heads, soldier termites will stand next to each other and attack together.
Usually, soldier termites protect the colony from attacks by other insects. Ants are a common invader, as the colonies can house them just as well as termites. However, sometimes soldier termites will attack other colonies. Generally, this occurs when something has happened to one colony’s home and it needs to find another. There’s nothing better than another insect colony, so they try to move in. This sets off a battle between both sides’ soldiers, with the winner getting the location.
Some soldier termites can secrete poisons as part of their defensive structure. These are triggered by the attack, and usually come out of the head. This allows the poison, as well as the jaws, to keep antagonists away. If a soldier is killed, there is usually another soldier standing beside him or next to him, ready to take his place. Thus, soldier termites regularly sacrifice themselves for the good of their entire colony.
Soldier termites play an important role in termite culture and eliminating them is a key part of any termite control plan. This is especially true if you’re planning to use ants for termite control, as the soldier termites are the ones who will work to keep the ants from overrunning the colony. Make sure that any termite control company you work with has included the soldier termites in their plans, and have a way designed to specifically eliminate them.